Friday 11/20: LAST DAY of the CAPA Virtual Summit

2020 CAPA Summit Flyer 400px v2UPDATE: Over the past two Fridays, CAPA is proud to have brought together public health officials, community advocates, and representatives from across the spectrum of California experience. November 20, 2020, is the final day of the CAPA 2020 Virtual Summit. The final day boasts poets, power-building, and a celebration of the work we've all done to resist the power of Big Alcohol.


Alcohol harms are social justice issues. In 2020 we have seen vulnerability, oppression, and exploitation be the catalyst for powerful social justice movements. Public health has a role to play in these movements, and we cannot understand what that is without understanding the intersections of who we are, what we experience, and forces running through society. The fifth annual California Alcohol Policy Alliance (CAPA) Summit focuses on bringing together diverse voices to speak out against disproportionate harms and abuses perpetrated by Big Alcohol and consider innovative strategies for the future.

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Government Cuts Safe Drinking Levels For Men In Half

A measuring cup full of beerHow much difference does a single drink make? Enough to save lives, according to preliminary dietary guidelines published by the United States Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS). The guidelines take the small yet revolutionary step of lowering the recommended maximum drinks per day for men from two to one.

“The observational evidence base with respect to alcohol consumption is insufficient to recommend drinking at any level,” the team writes. In particular, they note problems with the research connecting two drinks a day for men to avoidance of cardiovascular outcomes, as well as a growing body of research connecting alcohol use to cancer risk. They cite recent studies that try to remove some of the bias in historical evaluations of alcohol risk, which, in aggregate, suggest men who drink 1 to 1.5 drinks a day are at less risk than those who adhered to the old standard of two.

“For decades we’ve taken flawed studies with easily identified sources of bias,” said Carson Benowitz-Fredericks, MSPH, research manager for Alcohol Justice, “and made firm conclusions based on them. What we’re seeing now is hardly a revolution, it’s just the government catching up with the state of the science.”

While the reduction in recommended drinks per day seemed nominal, it has raised the ire of the alcohol industry. Speaking to the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, Rob McMillan, executive vice president of Silicon Valley Bank’s wine division, lamented that the guidelines were “one more piece of ammunition to those who are anti-alcohol.” In the same article, R. Curtis Ellison, M.D., a researcher with a history of receiving alcohol industry funding, invoked the Trump Administration’s signature dismissal of unfavorable reports, calling the report “fake news.”

This is a remarkable turnabout for an industry accustomed to finding HHS amenable to its interests. As recently as 2018, Anheuser-Busch InBev had convinced the National Institutes of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to allow them to fund a trial on the “health benefits” of alcohol consumption. The trial, called MACH-15, was led by a researcher who cleared every step of the protocol with representatives of the mega-brewer, and who promised them that the results could be used to convince doctors to prescribe.

“The alcohol industry took for granted that they had federal consultants under their thumb,” said Michael Scippa, public relations director for Alcohol Justice, “and they’re going to try and fight this. We need to be louder, and send a message to Washington that these revised guidelines are smart, scientific, and long overdue.”

The comment period for the revised guidelines stays open until Augst 13, 2020. Alcohol Justice strongly supports these guidelines.

TAKE ACTION to voice support for lowering the safe alcohol consumption levels.

READ MORE about corruption in government alcohol research

READ MORE about the myth of healthy drinking.

READ MORE about Big Alcohol’s French Paradox fraud.

More Red Flags In Regulatory Relief

COVIDwashing EnglishIn response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) has been relaxing alcohol regulations in California. Alcohol Justice finds this strategy concerning for public health, both in terms of encouraging excessive drinking and in terms of increasing alcohol-related susceptibility to the coronavirus. Despite our concerns, ABC has continued to issue these reliefs without asking for input from community or public health advocates. Below is Alcohol Justice's attempt to push back against the newest wave of industry-friendly deregulation. Our first response letter is archived here

June 8, 2020

Jacob Appelsmith, Director
California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control
3927 Lennane Drive, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95834

Re: Alcohol Justice response to Notices of Regulatory Relief 3, 4 and 5

Dear Director Appelsmith,

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Alcopops are heavily flavored, heavily sugared, often high-ABV alcoholic beverages. They are among the most popular first drink for many youth. The Alcopop-Free Zone project used youth representatives to engage the San Rafael Canal community, educate retailers, and get alcopops off of store shelves.

]Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder includes bupernorphine among other medications. It offers the best opportunity for people who use opioids to live long, healthy lives, but only if they have access to it. Geographic, economic, and language barriers further complicate individuals' efforts to obtain this life-saving treatment. The MAT Access Project/Proyecto Latino TAM works to educate the Latinx community of Marin on the dangers of opioids, and promote culturally competent MAT services for those who needs it.


Within liquor, grocery, and drug stores, good retail practices can not only make it harder for youth to obtain alcohol, but make youth less interested in drinking. Youth Action for Safe Stores (YASS) develops youth leaders who can evaluate stores' retail practices, engage with business owners, and promote best retail practices throughout San Rafael.


Alcopops 2020



Don Carney, Director, Marin Youth Court
SRADC President

Nick Moorhatch, Producer, Comcast Cable Access
SRADC Vice President

Adolfo Aguilar, member, Youth For Justice

Marcianna Nosek
, PhD, MPH, MS, Associate Professor, University of San Francisco.
Larry Merideth, PhD, Director, Marin Health and Human Services

Michael Watenpaugh
, EdD, Superindent, San Rafael City Schools

Kevin Lynch, Director of Juvenile Services Division, County of Marin Probation Department

Elia Manzo, leader, Consejo Restaurativo

Wilibaldo Pulido, owner, La Plaza Market.

Douglas Mundo, Executive Director, Canal Welcome Center.

Mary Joe Williams, CAO, Bay Area Community Resources

Sam Alexander, Pastro, First Presbyterian Church of San Rafael

Eric Bejarano, student, Sonoma State University